Elizabeth Starace


Ghosts of the Sea


On December 4th, 1872, Canadian brigantine Dei Gratia stumbled upon the Mary Celeste adrift and deserted off the Azores Islands. The cargo and belongings of those that had been onboard the Mary Celeste were untouched, forever frozen in time. Unbeknownst to the Dei Gratia's crew, this discovery would spark one of the most infamous mysteries to date. The Mary Celeste had become a ghost ship.

A ghost ship is a vessel that is found with no living crew aboard. The mysterious nature of ghost ships is what makes them appealing. Why did the captain and crew abandon ship? Where did they go? What happened? These are only a few of the questions that arise when an unmanned, seaworthy ship is found.

Nothing can truly disappear without explanation. By studying ship logs, notes, community accounts, and data found in the International Comprehensive Ocean-Atmosphere Data Set (ICOADS), a believable outcome can be found.

Inspired by the intrigue surrounding Ghost Ships, I compiled all the known information and theories into an online database that allows the audience to not only learn about various abandoned ships, but to come up with their own theories to answer my topic questions. The goal is to engage the viewer to interact by adding to the mythological culture surrounding Ghost Ships while they are learning the historical findings. An illustrated poster series incorporating some of the findings for each ship accompanies and promotes the database.